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Advancing Epigenetics: Novel Drug Discovery Strategies for Epigenetic Targets

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Advancing Epigenetics: Novel Drug Discovery Strategies for Epigenetic Targets

Recorded 17 October 2012



Research in the field of epigenetics has exploded in the last several years, as evidenced by the rapidly expanding volume of published literature. Significant advances have been made in the illumination of basic epigenetic mechanisms such as chromatin remodeling, DNA methylation, and RNA signaling. With these advances has also come an understanding of the critical roles that epigenetic modifications play in the development and progression of disease, and an increased focus on the identification of clinical treatments for aberrant epigenetic states. Given the increasing interest and investment in drug discovery for epigenetic targets, there is a clear need for robust methodologies to identify candidate therapeutic compounds. This webinar will focus on novel techniques for drug discovery against histone-modifying enzymes.

During this webinar, our panelists will:

  • Briefly cover the basics of epigenetic modifications and how they impact gene expression and disease states
  • Discuss current techniques for identifying and validating potential targets for clinical intervention
  • Share their personal experience working with histone-modifying enzymes as therapeutic targets.
  • Answer your questions live during the broadcast!

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Speaker bios

Manfred Jung, Ph.D.

University of Freiburg
Freiburg, Germany

Dr. Jung holds an undergraduate degree in pharmacy and a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry, both from the University of Marburg in Germany. He carried out postdoctoral studies in Canada at the University of Ottawa and was a lecturer and researcher, and then a senior researcher, in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Münster, Germany. In 2003, Dr. Jung moved to the University of Freiburg, where he is currently a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry. His field of research is chemical epigenetics, focusing on drug discovery and assay development with inhibitors of histone deacetylases, NAD+-dependent histone deacetylases, histone acetyl- and methyltransferases, and histone demethylases.

Margaret Porter Scott, Ph.D.

Cambridge, MA

Dr. Porter Scott received her B.A. from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and her Ph.D. from the State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook. She is currently director of lead discovery at Epizyme responsible for enzymology, high throughput screening, and compound management. Prior to Epizyme, Dr. Porter Scott held scientific positions at Millennium, Neogenesis, Vertex, and Pfizer. Most recently, she spoke on biochemistry and screening approaches for histone methyl transferases at the 2011 Society for Biomolecular Screening and 2012 Society for Laboratory Automation meetings.

Ji-Hu Zhang, Ph.D.

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Cambridge, MA

Dr. Zhang graduated from Nankai University in Tianjin, China, and received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Georgia in the United States in 1991. From 1991 to 1995, Dr. Zhang worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at the University of California-Berkeley and later in the Division of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. He started his industry career in 1996, when he joined the Affymax Research Institute as a research scientist before moving to Dupont Merck (later DuPont Pharmaceuticals) as a principal research scientist in the Leads Discovery Department. In 2002, he joined Novartis as a research fellow in Leads Discovery Center, where he is currently a senior investigator. Dr. Zhang’s expertise is in biochemical and cellular assay development and high throughput screening (HTS) technologies for drug discovery. He also has a strong interest in the statistical aspects of HTS and was the senior contributor in the development of an assay quality statistical measure known as the  Z’-factor. Dr. Zhang received the SBS Society Accomplishment Award in 2002 and has served on the editorial board of the journal of Biomolecular Screening since 2002. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed research papers and has contributed to several book chapters.

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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